The whole thing was Hood's idea, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. I knew something was up, from the looks that he had been sending me lately. Glances that became more and more calculating as I tried to navigate some kind of something with Jake Doyle. So when I was called into the inspector's office the day after Guy the vacationing Sûreté du Québec officer left, I almost welcomed the dressing down I expected to receive. At least things would be settled and I could move on.
What I didn't expect was to be offered a job. I never thought that I could pull off an undercover assignment and was completely unsure of my ability to shed my own skin and don someone else's. But, this could be the key to getting my career back on track, and as much as it pained me to admit it, my job really was my life.
Hood was waiting for me when I got back to the basement office, casually resting against my desk with an apple flip in hand. "You're going to need to sell it Bennett. You disappear now and Doyle will never stop looking. Burn your bridges, do it slow and careful, but burn them all the same." He left before I could get a word out. Now all I had to do was destroy what was left of my life while trying not to hurt anyone else.
It was all too easy to be mad at Jake; all I had to do was remember my stint as a traffic cop. Then Reese was murdered and it was harder to maintain the shell. The Doyle's needed me, and I knew it, but if I cracked now who knew where I'd end up. I didn't want to be stuck in Lab City for good this time.
The evidence stacked up, and though I knew that there was no way that Malachy would ever murder anyone in cold blood, it was far out of my hands. I did what I had to and pulled the tough exterior even harder around me. Maybe I would be better at this uncover stint then I thought, if my performance here was any indication.
Until, one ungodly hour in the morning, I was standing in front of Jake's bed surrounded by uniforms and I could tell the second that he lied to me. It had to be Mal on the phone, Jake may have been saying all the right words to perpetrate a misdirect, but his eyes couldn't lie to me. I focused all my energy on masking the hurt I was feeling. He didn't trust me enough to help him and his family through this. He didn't trust me. Bridges successfully burned. I guess all my hard work hadn't been for nothing. Now if I could just forget that I felt like crying everything would work out fine.
When I rushed into my office twenty minutes later, struggling, and probably failing, to keep up the tough cop facade, Hood was once again leaning against my desk. "In three days the brass want to send you to Halifax for a week of training with the Feds. Then you can fly back as your cover identity and set yourself up down on Goodview St."
"Sure." I felt myself nodding. Stuck somewhere between completely numb, and wanting to shoot something, I didn't know what to do, or what else to say. I slumped down into my chair with an uncharacteristic sigh.
"Look Bennett, you and he were never meant to work out."
There was no need for me to ask whom we were talking about, so I just nodded again, feeling tears begin to pool in the corners of my eyes. I take back my previous thought. Some undercover cop I'm going to make, when I can't even keep it together in front of my own partner.
Hood walked around the desk, and laid a gentle hand on my shoulder. "We can sort out this mess about Reese and the Doyles while you're gone. Tell him about the training, that you need to go away for a while, and then walk away and don't look back."
The breath I drew in was surprisingly controlled and I felt some of my strength returning. I could do this. I had to do this, and maybe if I did it well enough my father would finally come to see my promotion ceremony.
"I will." Something resembling a smile graced my lips. He grinned in return and turned to leave. He was almost to the door before I found my voice again. "And Dan, thanks for this."
Threads unravelled quickly. Jake was God knows where involved with something to do with government gold. Sonja apparently had the ability to blow the city to kingdom come. Rose and Malachy were in custody. I was too busy to think about anything beside the case notes right in front of my nose, and the surprisingly hard task of memorizing a second identity.
Rubbing my temples did little to ease the wicked headache that was forming behind eyes, and staring off into space wasn't much help either. Nor, was the ringing of my phone.
"Sergeant, there's been a shooting at the airport. The Doyle kid took one to the stomach and it doesn't look good."
"Oh my God." I didn't stop to ask who the Doyle kid was, after all it was all just a matter of degrees.
How I got to the hospital I don't know, I didn't even bother to put my coat on, headless of the worsening weather. I just had to get there. Constable McKinley stood just inside the automatic doors to emergency, I almost ran him over in my haste.
"Constable?" My voice trailed off. How were you supposed to ask if the man you loved was dead?
He held up a hand to silence me, and I tried not to notice how his glove glistened with blood. "It was Des." I feel my frantically beating heart slow slightly at his words.
McKinley looked at me with pity, and I wondered if he could sense the guilt that was coursing through me because I was grateful that Jake was alive, even if it meant that Des had been shot.
"They took him upstairs." I follow him, my heels clanking on the concrete steps.
Even at the end of the hall, I could hear the sharp flat tone of the heart monitor. Oh God, Des. Des was too young to die - too kind to die. Jake was nowhere to be seen. I push open the double doors of the trauma room, stare too long at Des's prone bleeding form, latch my hands to Jake's wool-clad arm, and pull.
"Jake." Somehow my voice was as strong as steel. All I could think about was how I had to get us out of here. I pull harder and he comes.
McKinley helped me guide Jake to stand against the wall. Jake and I begin a slow slide down to the floor, and I feel his hands flit uncertainly around my waist, leaving faint smudges of blood.
"Des?" I've never heard him sound so broken.
With one hand, I pull his head down to my shoulder, while my other winds around his back. My fingers are making a snarl of his hair, and my knees press hard into the unforgiving floor. All the work that I had put into a tough exterior gone in an instant. How could anything be more important then this? "There was nothing you could do."
I mean my words to be soothing, but he tenses against me.
"It's all my fault."
"Jake." My voice is soft now, almost pleading. Pleading for him not to take on more blame, more guilt on his shoulders. "I'm sure that's not true."
"But it is." His head snaps up and his eyes bore into mine. "Leslie. It's all my fault." The beginnings of tears shine and I know that he believes every word to be true.
I place a light kiss to his temple, benediction freely given, and pull him into a hug once more. "Hush now. It'll be alright."
"How?" His voice cracks into a sob, and I feel wetness begin to pool against the skin of my neck.
I don't have an answer. I just clasp him tighter, squeeze my eyes shut, and hope that the faint beeping I hear in the air is Des clinging to life.
My knees are starting to tingle with pain, when I first think to look up and see if McKinley is still standing above us. He's not and I'm glad that I'm the only one who has borne witness to the brunt of Jake's tears. While his sobs were fleeting, I know that he would hate to show weakness in front of anyone. Part of me is still stunned that he was willing to show it to me after how I've been the past few weeks.
Jake's breathing settles quickly, and I feel him tense ever so slightly under my hands when he comes back to himself, but he doesn't pull back. Blood stained hands fiddle absent-mindedly with the ends of my curls, but I don't mind. If he wants to hide from the world for a little while, I'll let him.
The sharp ding of the elevator shatters our cocoon of silence, and before I have a chance to disentangle myself, Malachy and Rose are upon us. They must have been cleared of the charges against them.
"What happened? Jake! What have you gotten the poor boy into now?" Malachy's questions are more accusations then anything. I hold up a hand to stop them, while I try to get my numb feet under me enough to stand.
"Malachy why don't we go and talk about this." My attempt to soothe the situation gets nowhere, and he presses on angrier then ever.
"Leslie stay out of this. Answer me Jake."
I turn, shielding Jake from his father as much as possible. The last thing he needs is for his father to blame him for this. Their relationship may appear to be prickly but I know Jake loves his father and counts on his respect.
"I will not stay out of this, and if you can't restrain yourself, I'll have uniforms throw you out of this hospital." I can tell that my own anger has taken him aback.
Rose lays a steadying hand on her husband's raised arm. "Mal maybe we should go and find a waiting room."
"Rose, I'm not going anywhere until I get some answers." His voice may have dropped a few decibels, but his tone is still as hard as ice.
"Well you won't be getting them here." He picked the wrong night to mess with me. I brace myself for the oncoming storm.
"It's OK Leslie." Jake's voice is so soft I don't know if anyone else even heard him. His hand taps my calf and I move to the side, reaching down a hand to help him up.
Rose gasps when she sees the state of him. "Jake are you alright?"
I turn my head and take in his red-rimmed eyes, the swipe of blood on his cheek now run through with tear tracks, surprised that he makes no move to wipe the moisture away. He ignores Rose's question; choosing to stare down his father instead.
"You want to know what happened Dad? I got Des shot in the gut, and he's probably lying dead in that room." His voice is steady and emotionless, as if he really was just laying out the facts. "Guess I really am the screw up you always said I was."
Without another word he brushes past us all and heads for the stairs, the protests of the ungreased push bar echoing down the silent hall.
I take in Mal's shocked face. Maybe he knows that he finally went too far. "I'm sorry Leslie."
I scoff in a tone that is usually reserved for Jake. "I'm not the one you should be apologising to. He's your son for Christsakes, can't you see he's hurting?"
"I didn't think."
Mal starts again but I cut him off quickly. "That's right you didn't think." I turn quickly and start for the stairs. "Rose, call me once you know something." I need to find Jake before he does something reckless.